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"Prussian "o-rings"" Topic

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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2014 5:36 p.m. PST

I'm referring to the white circles painted on Prussian covered shakos.

As I'm starting to re-vamp & expand my doughty late Prussian army for our Ligny mega-game (in August), I was wondering how common these devices were?

Entire units or the odd figure?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2014 6:14 p.m. PST

I believe they were for Prussian Fusiliers.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2014 6:47 p.m. PST

I heard they were painted on for the Russian campaign, but fell out of use over 1813-1814.

Hopefully someone who knows more than I will be along to correct me soon.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2014 7:20 p.m. PST

As Mserafin says, mate, they were applied for the Russian campaign, as the Russian and Prussian uniforms looked very similar at even a short distance. I'm not sure when they were officially removed, but whatever the date I'd say that Russian Campaign veterans probably found a way to keep wearing them, at least until the covers had to be replaced. As such, you'd only find them on troops from the battalions that had gone into Russia.

By 1815, though, I think they'd have disappeared (see below). The short peace before Napoleon came back saw the martinets crack down on anyone who tried to evade the regulations.

McLaddie, from memory Nash, Rawkins and a couple of magazine articles said the white ring was for fusiliers, but the more authoritative texts say they were for Russia. However, there's some speculation that some (all?) of the fusilier battalions that went to Russia may have kept the ring once they'd returned, as a battalion distinction. I'm not sure about that, as I think the black belts were a more visible distinction than a white ring on a shako. But troops do try to hang on to markings, badges, etc, that distinguish their unit from others. Certainly nobody could definitely say someone was wrong if he used it, mate.



Oliver Schmidt06 Dec 2014 11:38 p.m. PST

The white ring was not painted directly on the shako cover, but a black leather cockade with a white painted ring was to be attached to it.

At least this is what was ordered by a Royal order (Kabinetts-Ordre) of 27 March 1812, for all troops mobilised for the 1812 campaign.

On the shako without cover, fusileers had a normal cockade as distinction. So in 1812, fusileers would have this normal cockade fixed to the front of their shako, and another, leather one, on their shako cover.

Richard Knötel gives somewere a Leib-Husar with the death head painted on the shako cover, but I could not find any primary source confirming this.

For the 1813 campaign, as far as I know, the order to wear these leather cockades on the shako cover was not renewed. In the Prussian regimental histories I have read up to now, the cockade on the shako cover is always mentioned for 1812 only.

However, there is one possibly contemporary illustration by the Swedish painter Hjalmar Mörner, showing (probably) a Prussian reserve regiment in Bülow's corps in 1813. There are some minor mistakes in it, but it clearly shows cockades attached to the shako covers, albeit the white dot in the center of them doesn't make sense:

See also here:


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2014 3:39 a.m. PST

There is a science called epistomology. It is the study of knowledge. It is that Donald Rumsfeldt thing about "what we know we know" etc.

I "knew" French Light Infantry did not have drummers, or carabiniers a cheval never used square portmateaux, just as I "knew" the Prussians had simply a white painted ring on their shako cover for 1812…………until now. Many thanks

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2014 5:28 a.m. PST

My existing Prussians (an 1813-14 army, really) do have a unit with O-rings but based on the above, I won't do any more.


spontoon07 Dec 2014 11:08 a.m. PST

In the Morner painting the dot in the centre of the cockade could be a button fastening it on the shako cover.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2014 12:28 p.m. PST

From what I understand, the white ring was used by units throughout the 1812-1814 period, partly to distinguish them from the French when using the oil skin cover on campaign.

The white dot in the center could well be a pin or rivet holding the painted cockade on the oil skin.

The Oilskin cover, which Prussians always wore in the field, is glazed cotton, with a leather cockade sewn on:
these became the mark of units, like the 6th , which had been on the Russian 1812 campaign as part of Yorck's Corps.

From the Napoleon Series and Steven Smith.

To see more of these beautiful figures and how they were made, see:


Oliver Schmidt07 Dec 2014 1:06 p.m. PST

I haven't read anywhere in regimental histories or memoirs that these cockades on the shako covers (from linen covered with oil paint) were regarded as a particular mark for certain units.

Of course this doesn't exclude it was the case. But without a reliable source given, I tend to doubt it.

14Bore07 Dec 2014 6:08 p.m. PST

McLaddie you made my day. the only thing out is the one item I'm pondering over is a cartridge pouch. I want to make one out of some heavy leather I have.

von Winterfeldt07 Dec 2014 11:19 p.m. PST


Visit Markus Stein's website

then go the the sources where you should find the publication

"Circulaire" in one of their issues an original Prussian cartridge pouch is photographed from a lof of different angels as well as measurements given

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP08 Dec 2014 5:23 p.m. PST

Oli, so good to see you on this thread, mate. I understand that all the forces sent to Prussia had the cockade fitted to the shako cover, but there's a couple of sources that state the fusiliers from Russia kept the ring, as I said above. Not knowing where they got that information, and being aware that Nash, Rawkins, etc, contain quite a few errors, I'm still loathe to dismiss it without an authoritiave reference saying that it never happened. So I'm glad you showed up. :-)

That's an interesting print. I wonder if the hornist may indicate it's a Reserve Fusilier Battalion? From what I've read there were reserve battalions that painted/stitched a Prussian cockade on to their shakoes/shako covers (eg II and III BN 7RIR). Could this be where the belief that fusiliers kept the ring on the shako cover came from?

McLaddie, thanks so much for sharing that site. That figure is brilliant! I saw some similar sorts of figures in Genoa, in 1996. They were all of French and Genoese units from about 1800-1809 (one French figure was in the white uniform and shako of 1809) and I would have bought one, had I the money (and if I thought I'd get them back through Australian customs). I didn't know that others did these figures as well.

For those wondering what units went to Russia, and so may have continued wearing the ring on their shakoes, below is an ORBAT that may be of use. Note that the regiments were formed by combining battalions/squadrons from different regiments of the standing army in Prussia. The exception is the 4th Combined Regiment, which was formed from the three battalions of the Leib Regiment.



27th Division (Prussian Corps): Général of Infantry Grawart

Général-lieutenant Yorck

Infanterie: Général-Major von Kleist

1st Brigade: Oberst von Below
1st Combined Infantry Regiment (61/2,006)
2/1st East Prussian Regiment
2/2nd East Prussian Regiment
Fus/1st East Prussian Regiment
2nd Combined Infantry Regiment (65/2,091)
1/3rd East Prussian Regiment
1/4th East Prussian Regiment
Fus/4th East Prussian Regiment
7th Fusilier Battalion (Fus/2nd East Prussian Regiment) (17/559)

2nd Brigade: Oberst von Horn
3rd Combined Infantry Regiment (58/1,910)
1/Colberg Regiment
2/1st Pommeranian Regiment
Fus/1st Pommeranian Regiment
4th Combined Infantry Regiment (60/1,971)
Leib Regiment

3rd Brigade: Oberst von Raumer
5th Combined Infantry Regiment (60/2,019)
1/1st West Prussian Regiment
1/2nd West Prussian Regiment
Fus/2nd West Prussian Regiment
6th Combined Infantry Regiment (61/2,047)
2/1st Silesian Regiment
22nd Silesian Regiment
Fus/2nd Silesian Regiment
East Prussian Jäger Battalion (18/464)

Cavalry: Oberst von Massenbach

26th Light Brigade: Oberst von Hunerbein
1st Combined Dragoon Regiment (23/574/68/591)
2/,4/Lithuanian Dragoon Regiment
1/,2/2nd West Prussian Dragoon Regiment
2nd Combined Dragoon Regiment (24/586/68/600)
1/,3/1st West Prussian Dragoon Regiment
1/,3/Brandenberg Dragoon Regiment

27th Light Brigade: Oberst von Jeanneret
1st Combined Hussar Regiment (26/614/68/629)
3/,4/1st Leibhusaren Regiment
2/,3/2nd Leibhusaren Regiment
3rd Combined Hussar Regiment (21/504/68/514)
1/,3/1st Silesian Hussar Regiment
1/,2/2nd Silesian Hussar Regiment

Corps Artillery:
1st (1st Prussian) Foot Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
2nd (2nd Prussian) Foot Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
3rd (3rd Prussian) Foot Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
4th (1st Brandenburg) (Guard) Foot Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
1/2 3rd (1st Silesian) Foot Battery (4-12pdrs)
1st (1st Prussian) Horse Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
2nd (2nd Prussian) Horse Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)
3rd (3rd Prussian) Horse Battery (6-6pdrs & 2 How)

Oliver Schmidt09 Dec 2014 3:47 a.m. PST

Dal, the king ordered on 6 March 1812, that when a musketer or fusileer battalion was mobilised, it should have

1 battalion tambour,
2 buglers,
10 drummers.

On 12 January 1813, a new, higher etat strength was ordered for the battalions, which remained in force until at least after the 1815 campaign. There, only the number of 13 "Spielleute" (a generic denomination including drummers and buglers alike) is given, probably the number of buglers did not change.

This means that the presence of a bugler is no indication of a fusileer battalion ;-)

In Richard Knötel's Mitteilungen zur Geschichte der militärischen Tracht, vol. XII (1904), pp 5-22, there is an article on the unifoms of the reserve regiments, based on the regimental histories.

I didn't find in it any reference to cockades on shakos of the 7th reserve infantry. But maybe Knötel just didn't include it.

Here is another article (covering only the first six regiments):

PDF link

Rob Mantle also put together a booklet for the Napoelonic Association about the reserve regiments:


but it contains many errors. See here for example:

TMP link

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2014 4:37 a.m. PST

Nash, and Rob M both say that the regiment had Prussian style shakoes made from straw, over which they fitted the black cover with a white ring painted on it. I'm not sure where this came from (I couldn't find a mention in Alt's Das Königlich Preußishe Stehende Heer, nor is it mentioned in PH's Osprey on the Reserve, Militia and Irregular troops- though he does show the ring on a plate of a Lützow musketeer. My other books are at the farm, unfortunately- I'd like to find where I read the comment on the fusiliers putting a ring on their shako covers.

I didn't think the Musketeer battalions had hornists, just fifers and drummers. Thanks for pointing that out!

Thanks for the article too, mate. I'll read that over the next couple of days.



von Winterfeldt09 Dec 2014 6:48 a.m. PST

More interesting than the cockade is the outlook of the infantry on campaign, long trousers instead of breeches and gaters, NCO and musician also with boots, and the shako for the leading officer – is Austrian – clearly not a Prussian one.

Oliver Schmidt09 Dec 2014 7:11 a.m. PST

This officer is also shown on a plate by Ljunggren:


He was either an outstanding personality in late 1813, or one of them, Mörner or Ljunggren, copied from the other.

(see also here:)


Mörner has some strange features, if not mistakes: the white dot in the center of the cockade, usually bugles were made of brass, the Russian style gaiter trousers are untypical for the 1813/14 campaign, the rolled greatcoat wass slung over the left shoulder (not the right one), the white lace on the swallow nests should be perpendicular (not in diagonal stripes).

huevans01109 Dec 2014 7:37 a.m. PST

v W, I believe that is the officer's hair and not a rear peak.

The trousers are the familiar Russian white gaiter-trousers. IIRC, these were adopted by the Prussian army in 1816. Could this be an anachronism?

Oliver Schmidt09 Dec 2014 7:57 a.m. PST

The Ljunggren plate shows a rear peak as well. If you enlarge the Möller image, you will see a front peak, a rear peak, and a strange tiny side flap ;-)

By the way, the half moons on this officer's shoulders should be brass in any case. Ljunggren shows him with red epaulettes and brass half moons, also with brass buttons instead of the white ones depicted by Möller.

Wolf & Jügel show the gaiter trousers for the Prussian grenadier regiments, created in late October 1814. The same delivery ("Siebentes Heft") depicts the Garde-Kosaken-Eskadron, which was incorporated into the new Garde-Ulanen-Regiemnt in March 1815. So the gaiter trousers may be correct already for late 1814.

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